Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Get off the open register if  
you don’t want the junk mail

THE Government has effectively ordered Weymouth and Portland council to open itself to ridicule.

Some might say this isn’t too difficult a job, but this time the council is the innocent party.

Thousands of us recently had a leaflet popped through our letterboxes entitled: “Your vote matters. The way you register to vote is changing.”

Now the council, no stranger to controversy, immediately spotted the ludicrous way the Government-backed leaflet had been written and contacted Westminster for permission to change the wording. That permission was denied and the council was forced to issue the leaflet as it was.

It told the residents of Weymouth and Portland that “you do not need to do anything else” over election eligibility because “you have been automatically re-registered under the new system”.

That’s all right then… but it isn’t.

Sadly, as with so many decisions the Government makes, all is not quite as it seems.
Lower down the same leaflet we are told our details are on an open register, an extract of the electoral register which is not used for elections but which can be bought “by any person, company or organisation”..... “to confirm name and address details”. 

Then comes the key sentence: “Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed.”

So, despite what the Government-backed leaflet says, unless you want an avalanche of “special offer” and charity mail pouring through your letterbox, you do need to do something.

Specifically you need to look at the bottom of your letter where there is a long security code of more than a dozen numbers and have that handy when you call 0800 197 2327 and ask to be removed from the open register.

I view the whole letter as a stealthy approach which could in many cases lead to businesses and charities being able to confirm precisely where you live and the only reason they can have for doing that is to send you “junk” mail or begging letters.

If you still haven’t made your mind up then more information on both registers is available at

But be warned. This, too, is top heavy on information about how easy the voting change is.
Only by going to Section 3 and pursuing that relentlessly do you finally arrive at what the open register is really about.

It includes a list of who uses the open register such as alcohol and gambling businesses, charities to help with fundraising, debt collection agencies and “direct-marketing firms when maintaining their mailing lists”.

So now you know. The Government says you do not need to do anything else. That’s fine for the election side of things but people who choose to ignore removing themselves from the open register only have themselves to blame if they then get a lot of unwanted mail.

A RECENT visit to the cinema underlined the impact weather is increasingly having on all our lives.

We joined 30-40 other film fans who packed into the excellent Plaza Cinema in Dorchester to see Guardians of the Galaxy.

Our trip included £4 in town centre parking fees and nearly £6 inside the cinema for nibbles, tea and other drinks on top of our cinema ticket bill.

Then we relaxed in our comfortable seats and waited for the usual burst of colourful adverts to herald the start of the entertainment.

We were still waiting nearly 40 minutes later after several false starts of music but no pictures when the manager came out in front of the audience and said that regretfully, due to technical problems, everyone would have to leave and be given a refund or similar option.

It emerged that the problem was believed to have been caused by a lightning strike during a recent storm over the county town. Typical! There’s never a Guardian of the Galaxy about when you need one for a spot of projector repairing.

Check my name tag!

IT was a simple trip out to Bristol by a Weymouth man and his friends which all went horribly wrong.

He drove up to the city and they had a good time, but he didn’t know the place and set off home by driving the wrong way up a one way street.

Then to get out of trouble… he drove the wrong way up another one way street. And to get out of that dilemma… he drove the wrong way up a third one way street!

It is perhaps no surprise that police eventually spotted him and pulled him over. The officer asked him how old he was and the young man replied: “17.”

He was also asked if he had been drinking and he replied: “Yes, but only a couple of pints.”

By now the policeman was determined to check the young man out and asked if he had any form of official identification on him.

The young man thought about that for a while and then admitted that he didn’t but, before the policeman could speak, the young man’s face lit up and he said he had just realised that he did have some form of identification.

He then got out of his car, rolled up a trouser leg and showed the officer his name stitched to a label on the inside of his sock! The officer was still laughing when he waved the young man on his way!

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